When I was in grad school, I had a bunch of Croatian friends who tried to explain to me the importance of a Croatian underground comedic political satire group called the Angry Children. As I understood it, the group would act out skits that resonated with the public in a way that no regular protests or media reports did. My reaction to this was “what a fucked up country you live in” (strangely, it pleased them to hear me say this). I thought of this when I saw the Tom Stoppard play “Rock n’ Roll”, which contains a subplot about how a group called The Plastic People of the Universe were better than intellectuals at critiquing the Czech communist government. Again, my reaction was “what a fucked up country that must have been.”
But now I’m starting to wonder if things are really so different over here. As much as I like the idea of serious, wonky discourse about CBO estimates and WHO rankings, in the end, I’m most affected by the idiocy of the conservative blather about death panels and euthanasia and eugenics. And, for the most part, it makes me laugh. As a result, I find that the only news sources that make sense to me are Comedy Central and blogs that specialize in sarcasm and snark.
Is it right to conclude that this country is essentially just as fucked up as mid 90s Croatia and early 80s Czechoslavia were? And is it possible that there is real political and societal value in making fun of teabaggers and birthers and Sarah Palin ?